Postmedia, my employer, posted its year-end financial results today, which includes a $100-million quarterly loss and a bunch of other numbers that don’t look good.
For those who don’t have a financial stake in Postmedia, these numbers may not matter to you. But more significant for people in the media industry is the company’s response: It wants to cut its total payroll by 20%. After implementing changes over the past year, including staff reductions, that reduced its operating expenses by $75 million a year, it’s doing the same again, cutting a fifth out of its $361-million payroll.
Assuming the cuts are evenly spread, this would mean Postmedia losing about 800 of its 4,000 employees at newspapers including the National Post, Montreal Gazette, Toronto Sun, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal, Vancouver Sun/Province and lots of smaller papers.
The company plans to do this in part through a voluntary buy-out program, which means I may lose some more colleagues. And I’m not 100% reassured that my own job is safe.
This is only the latest triple-digit staff reduction to come to a Canadian media giant in the past decade. Bell, Rogers, Quebecor, CBC and others have also made significant cuts, which increases the supply of journalists in the marketplace and makes it harder for others, particularly young people, to find jobs in the field.
The CWA union, representing many Postmedia employees, is urging the government to take action, and presumably order Postmedia broken up.
More coverage in the Postmedia-owned Financial Post, or The Canadian Press.
Begs the question of what will happen to all those little community weeklies, like the Gananoque Reporter, the only credible voice in the clamor over the eminent-domain seizure of prime waterfront property for condo development. The Kingston Whig-Standard, also a PostMedia paper has already shown itself to be a nutless wonder in the condominium-isation of Kingston’s historic waterfront. Are readers better off if the debt-laden monster dies and leaves room for whatever remains?
It is quite understandable, people are turning to digital media, including myself. I listen to radio stations from my native town in Belgium online, most of the radio I listen to is online. I keep my subscription to The Gazette because I volunteer teaching English and use some articles for the classes, and also read the editorial page, other than that I would have cancelled a long time ago, even The Gazette online has become boring, it is updated maybe once or twice a day, so I have not much use for it. If newspapers are full of irrelevant content people will stop buying them, circulation will go down and so will what they charge for advertising, which means less revenue and more costs cuts
The website is updated continuously between 6am and midnight.
I wish you well. I hope the cuts dont affect you
Postmedia continues down the same alley way, it’s narrowing all the time and at some point, they will sadly hit a dead end unless they find a door to exit on one side or the other. Basically, they keep trying to “shrink to profitability” but each time the cuts no only get rid of fat, but they also take away meat and bone. That means fewer locally produced stories, less local interest material, fewer experienced column writers, less photos, fewer pages… and that makes the product less desirable. That in turn reduces readership and accelerates declining ad revenues, which fuels another round.
Good luck on this one Steve. Hopefully that magic door will open before the speeding juggernaut that is Postmedia finds the inevitable brick wall.
Bad and sad news. But are they really news ? Although we all hate to hear about this , it makes me wonder how some can be surprized about it until it strikes them in the face.
As you said we can lose ourselves in the number and at the end of the day they serve no purpose to avoid the unavoidable. The paper business is going down the internet drain sooner or later.
But every time we talk about it comes the numbers ,copies printed copies sold, we are in good shape etc etc etc. I fail to understand how everyone does not come to their senses at some point. Now the paper giants are even asking for the government s help to make it through !
It made sense for them while they were milking the cow dry but now that it s due date, they need some more income to pay more and more dividends .
It may sound as a harsh comment but the little guys have very little to say in that game and although it is sad to see friends that cared so much about their jobs go , everyone needs to look at things as they are now for there is no tomorrow .
Bummer . You combine this bad news with the ever shrinking Anglo presence in Quebec and finally cable cord-cutting and you have a tsunami of bad news for local media . My 20 something kids will likely never subscribe to a newspaper. magazine , cable or have a land line . Even an old fart like me has cancelled our Gazette subscription because as Dilbert wrote “they keep trying to “shrink to profitability” to where finally there was no there there .
The always oblivious CRTC didn’t believe people would cut their phone land lines . Now they don’t believe people will cut their cable . People did the first and they will do the second .